Ibuka wants to take custody of property for wiped out families

Pictures of some of victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at Kigali Genocide Memorial. File.

Ibuka, the umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors’ associations, has expressed concern over property belonging to families that were wiped out during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which has been grabbed.

Some of it, survivors say, has ended up in the hands of those who perpetrated the Genocide.

According to Sa’adi Dunia, the president of Ibuka in Gakenke District, in Northern Province, land that belonged to the family of the late Silvanie Yatare, had been leased out to the public, including people who took part in the Genocide.

The family of eight members, who were all killed, had a 1.5-hectare piece of land and there was no immediate relative to inherit the estate, which ended up being public property.

According to Dunia, they would rather the land was used by survivors’ organisations as a way of honouring families that were wiped out.

“It really hurts us survivors to see property of an annihilated family being leased to a Genocide perpetrator. It carries some of contempt for the families that were killed,” he said.

According to the law, immediate relatives of the wiped out family may inherit their property but in some cases, there are no immediate relatives either because they were all wiped out or the survivors have left the country and the property remains in the hands of the public.

Dunia added that when Members of Parliament recently visited them, they lobbied for a change in the law that governs inheritance so that land that belonged to wiped out family can be transferred to a distant relative, even beyond two generations.

“For instance, if there is a survivor related to a family two or three generations away, the land should be given to them if it is impossible to let survivors’ organisations take control of it,” he said.

National level

Naphtal Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of Ibuka, told The New Times that they were currently carrying out a survey of all property that belonged to wiped out families to find out what was in public hands.

He supported the idea of putting the property in the hands of survivors’ organisations “to avoid people who may want to indirectly hurt them by leasing land belonging to people they killed.”

According to documents from GAERG, a survivors’ organisation for university graduates, preliminary research shows that 15,593 families were wiped out.

Gakenke District has 121 households, comprised of 521 members, that were wiped out during the Genocide.